At least three Arctic airports have been shipped unusable jet fuel and it’s affecting air service to those communities. An out-of-spec batch of fuel ended up in Paulatuk, Ulukhaktok and Sachs Harbour during the normal summer barge deliveries and airlines are reducing passenger and cargo loads so they can carry enough fuel for return trips. Alak Air is the main carrier and uses Beech 1900s on the routes from Inuvik. It’s adding extra flights. “We understand that everyone still needs to travel and receive their groceries so when we can, we’ve been adding an additional aircraft,” Ken Dalton, general manager for Aklak Air, told the CBC.
Under normal circumstances, Alak would use a single aircraft to fly from Inuvik to two of those communities in one milk run but the 1900 can’t carry enough fuel for that so it’s flying separate return flights. The company is absorbing the added cost. It’s the second year in a row that off-spec fuel has been delivered to the far-flung and aviation-dependent communities. The fuel can be filtered and treated on site and approved for use. In the meantime, the communities do have reserves of good fuel for emergency use, such as for medevac flight.